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Free Ordinary and Extraordinary Walks Through Valencia - El Carmen
On a Sunday Afternoon
Valencia is a beautiful Spanish city of about 900.000 people. Its old city center and its neighborhood El Carmen is the area were I do my groceries.
These are the surroundings for buying my home made fideua (fee dee wa) and for drinking café con leche in one of the many bars.
When I'm a little bored on Sunday's, I walk out the door and start enjoying an ordinary walk through town, doing what I love to do. Enjoy life!
Even today after living here for six years, I still can't stop looking up and enjoy the different colors in my area. But some 15 years ago, no one really wanted to live in El Carmen. Famous at the time for its drugs and creepy alleys. The whole area needed to be reformed.
Here and there, you'll still find some buildings in very poor conditions with green nets hanging from top to bottom, to avoid falling debris, hitting you while you pass by. It's only a matter of time before they get reformed like all the others.
I love the romance of French balconies and plants hanging over and I am surprised for finding very modern buildings, in between very old and shabby ones.
How to prepare Fideua?
Walk With Me
The pictures I took while walking through town, were all taken in about 30 minutes.
From Plaza de la Virgen, I followed Calle Caballeros, then took the fourth street to the right into Calle de Landerer, at the end I walked underneath Portal de la Valldigna, to enter the street Calle del Portal de Valldigna.
Don't get confused while walking through these narrow streets over signs that say, Carrer del Portal de Valldigna or Carrer dels Cavallers (Caballeros).
Valencia has its own regional language/dialect, which looks a lot like the official Spanish but on most streets you'll see two different signs in the two different languages.
Modern Versus Classic
A Nice 30 Minute Walk
At the end of the street you'll find this modern building, across a home for elderly people.
They often sit near the entrance in wheelchairs, to greet anyone who's passing by.
Here you turn left into Calle Baja (Carrer de Baix) and walk all the way down to Calle Caballeros. Turn left again to go back to Plaza de la Virgen to complete the walk of 30 minutes.
Calle Caballeros is by far the most famous street of El Carmen. It's filled with restaurants, bars, little shops, museums, a theater, a bakery and souvenirs shops.
Basilica de la Virgen
Party People All Year Round
Many people like living here though I would never rent an apartment in this street. Students, families, groups of friends and tourists especially walk around from 22.00 p.m. until 04.00 a.m. to enjoy nightlife and....to get drunk.
The afternoons are much more relaxed but I can't live relaxed for one part of the day and get stressed out for the other part.
In all honesty, Valencia is the perfect city to party until late, during almost every night of the week. Its climate is so comfortable during at leats 9 months a year, bringing Spanish from all over Spain and many party people from around the world, to enjoy the lifely ambiance of El Carmen.
A Hidden Palace for the Rich
Palacio de la Generalitat
Palaces and Posh Offices
On a Sunday afternoon it is totally different. It might even seem deserted to most tourists who walk around in the empty, perfectly silent city. Most Spanish enjoy their siesta or sleep all Sunday, while tourists pick their moment to visit The City of Arts and Sciences.
If you're lucky like me today, you get a quick peek into the good old days. On the picture above, there's a world opened to us, which we can only fantasize about.
These inside patios we're used by the proud owners of hidden palaces like these, to enter while riding their horses.
Until this day, many of these palaces are still in tact and used by rich families and if you almost complete your walk, you pass this impressive palace on the right. The two flags symbolize Valencia and Spain.
The government of Valencia sure knows, how to work in a posh environment, making it even more obvious where the money goes. Weekly demonstrations take place in front of 'their office' though this doesn't change a single thing.
Plaza de la Virgen/Virgen Square
Hooked and Spoiled
Once you move to Valencia, trying to build a life and finding out about the different neighborhoods, you can choose to live outside the center in area's like Patraix or Canovas.
You get used to taking the bus to the center, pay for taxi's to get back home after a late night out and you'll pay less rent for more space.
Most foreigners though, fall in love with the center. Need I say more after walking with me through this part of town? What about having the daily chance, to enjoy a cup of coffee on this beautiful square with the spectacular view on the Basilica de la Virgen and the Cathedral?
To begin my life in Valencia, I lived in Canovas for a little while, then moved to Patraix which was nice too, but absolutely got addicted to where I live now.
Nothing can beat the real vibe of El Carmen, the walks through this area on an ordinary Sunday, knowing this is an extraordinary place to live at, feeling blessed whenever I walk out my door.
Am I spoiled? Yes, I sure am!